FAQs about Child Diversity & Development Practicums

FAQs about Child Diversity & Development Practicums

If you are enrolled in any of the Child Development & Diversity core courses, you will also be enrolled in a mandatory practicum course as well.

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.

Q / What kinds of placements are there?

A / There is a great variety in the types of sites we have available for our practicum, and your discussions in class will give your classmates insight into the similarities and differences between the different institutions. As a result of the Danish philosophies on play, learning, and child development, American conceptions of ‘classroom learning’ will be challenged – your focus as a student at DIS will be on these types of pedagogical differences. The types of placements include:

  • SFO – Skolefritidsordning:
    Afterschool program for ages 6-12 where kids can be active, creative, and involved after school hours.  They have their own playground and indoor workshops (art, woodworking, etc.) The normal Danish public school day is from 8:00 to 13:00. SFO hours can be from 13:00 until 17:00 or 18:00. This type of institution also has a focus on socialization – the academic focus happens during the school day. Children do have the possibility for support with homework.
    Core course that offers this placement:  Children in a Multicultural Context
  • Club
    Afterschool program for teens ages 12-19.
    Core courses that offer this placement: Children and Youth in Europe, Children in a Multicultural Context
  • Older school practicum – Folkeskole
    This Danish public school, for children and youth of various ages, is the most common school form picked by Danes. The school is for students age 6-15, grade børnehaveklasse to 10. Your placement within the school depends on your core course and your preference. There are academic focuses in separate subjects such as math, science, history, nature, music, etc. Lesson plans are made by teachers, and tests are given to assess learning. This will require being proactive and possibly the expectation that you develop specific lessons for the children.
    Core courses that offer this placement: Child Development in Scandinavia, Children in a Multicultural Context
  • Danish Nursery – Vuggestue:
    Daycare for the youngest Danes from age 10 months to two years and ten months. The day, organized around the needs of the children, is based on play, singing, day trips, naps, and developing the children’s social skills. This option is for students who are interested in Danish early childhood care, and who wish to work with infants and toddlers.
    Core courses that offer this placement: Child Development in Scandinavia, Children in a Multicultural Context
  • Danish Preschool – Børnehave:
    Daycare for children age 3-6. The first children arrive at 7:00, and the last are picked up at 17:00. The day is based on free play and usually involves games and activities such as cooking, painting, singing, fieldtrips, and the like.This option is for students interested in what a general Danish preschool is like, and who are interested in working with young children.Note: Institutions at this age are centered on play, and do NOT typically involve ‘teaching’.
    Core courses that offer this placement: Child Development in Scandinavia, Children in a Multicultural Context
  • Danish Forest Preschool – Skovbørnehave:
    An alternative to the regular børnehave, situated in the forest. The kids are usually picked up by a bus in the city, and then drive to a house in the forest for the day. Activities usually involve making bonfires, playing in the woods, cooking, going on fieldtrips, and learning about nature. This option is for students interested in learning about Danish childcare philosophy related to nature, and who are ready to spend an entire day outside – also in the snow.
    Note: Institutions at this age are centered on play, and do NOT typically involve ‘teaching’.
    Core courses that offer this placement: Child Development in Scandinavia, Children in a Multicultural Context

Q / How am I assigned to a site?

A / You will be placed at your practicum site based on the answers to a questionnaire that you will fill out shortly before the semester start. Questions regarding age groups, specific topic areas of interest, and previous experience will determine where you will be best placed. You will not be able to pick, choose, or individually request sites.

The sites are located throughout the greater Copenhagen area, and DIS will provide you with additional transportation passes should you require it. Please expect a MINIMUM of a 30 minute commute to your placement.

Q / What do you do at the site?

A / Your experience at your practicum site will vary depending on your placement. At your site, you will participate in the every day routines of the institution. This could involve planned activities, field trips, snack time, etc. However, it is important to note that some institutions may have more focus on observing the children, whereas other sites encourage and expect active involvement with children, staff, and parents.

Students are often concerned about the possible language barrier between English and Danish. This is part of the experience! Working with children who do not speak English encourages you to develop advanced non-verbal communication skills. Play is the same in all languages, and English can be your biggest strength! However, we do strongly recommend that you enroll in the elective course Danish Language for Child Development & Diversity students while here – it is purpose built for you to aid you in interacting at your practicum!

At your site, you will have a site supervisor that speaks English. In Denmark it is also common that MOST adults speak English, so should you have any questions or thoughts, it should not be a problem to discuss these with the other staff at your site. This is a chance for you to get first-hand information about the ideas and theories you are learning in class. If you are unsure – always ask!

Q / Why is this practicum experience important?

A / This unique opportunity is offered to you because of the importance of making connections between theory and practice. While you are abroad learning about the differences in pedagogical theory, the importance of play, and the Danish concept of “the good childhood” you can put your classroom knowledge into context at your practicum site! You have the chance for experiential, hands-on learning. The point is for you to have the opportunity to see the Danish system in action. It is then possible to layer your classroom knowledge about specific topics on to what you observe at your site every week.

Q / How many times will I go to my practicum site?

A / You go to your assigned practicum site 10 times over the course of the semester. The times of day will vary depending on the site (some are earlier in the morning, and others are later in the afternoon). As mentioned above, you are not able to request specific sites. While the average number of hours spent at the site are between 50 and 60, it is important to note that you are required to go to their site ALL 10 TIMES, regardless of how many hours you go each time. Practically speaking, this may mean that one student could be at their practicum site 50 hours, and others could be there 80.

As you complete each visit, it is advised that you try to be flexible with the specific hours you spend at the site. Visit at different times of the day, or perhaps even on another free day during the week! This enables you to see the children at different times of the day, when parents are dropping them off or picking them up, or even at different locations (during field trips, for example).

Q / How is my experience at the site connected to the theory class?

A / The theory and practicum portions of the course are combined during your class sessions on Mondays. Through class discussions, course assignments, and readings, you will be asked to draw upon your experience at the site (either through observing children, or active involvement). Part of each class will be focused on getting feedback from your experiences, and giving other students a chance to hear about peer experiences.